What’s holding you back right now from achieving your goals? Often, we look to justify the road block by needing to apportion blame on other external circumstances outside of our influence. The struggling economy, down turn in spending, lows in consumer confidence and uncertain times all have an impact, but perhaps the greatest impact and limiting factor is closer to home than we think!

The reality is that in many cases as individuals and as teams we make assumptions based on what has happened before or how we see ourselves and the world around us. In her book ‘Time to Think’ author and speaker Nancy Kline describes the use of Incisive Questions. Kline suggests “Incisive Questions remove limiting assumptions, freeing the mind to think afresh.”

Limiting assumptions hold you back

The truth about limiting assumptions is that they are just that, they are assumptions that you or your team have made. However, they may appear very real and their effect can be devastating, causing paralysis, fear, lack of seeing a way forward, unless addressed in the correct way.

Examples of typical assumptions may include some of the following:

  • They might not agree with me.
  • I might not be successful.
  • I am not good at presentations.
  • It will be difficult.
  • They might think I am not confident enough.

Incisive questions free your thinking

Often these assumptions may be hidden and bedded in well, or as Kline puts it, “bedrock assumptions”. The act of simply telling someone that they are assuming and that it isn’t the case is not enough. What is called for is the power of Incisive Questions, providing the link to identifying the assumption in the first place, and then replacing that assumption with a freeing one.

So let’s say you have a colleague who is avoiding preparing for a meeting with client A to negotiate terms for the new year. You might ask, ‘What might you be assuming that is stopping you from preparing for the meeting with client A?’ The colleague may tell you that he is worried that he might not be successful and that the client might already be considering alternatives. The key here is good listening and using the power of pure attention to accurately identify where and when assumptions are in place. Having identified the assumption the next stage is to replace it with a freeing one. So in our example: you are successful. Taking the freeing assumption and building this into the body of a question this could become: If you knew that you are successful (freeing assumption), how would you prepare for the meeting with client A (the goal)?

The use of Incisive Questions is powerful way to remove the road blocks and shackles which hold us and our teams back from achieving our goals. To find out more about becoming a more effective leader, and in developing stronger communication skills please email or contact us.